The start of the school year is officially here for kids, teens, and college students across the country. Of course, that means it’s here for parents, too, sending many moms and dads into preparation mode. In years past, this time of year has been a marketing goldmine. Parents were eager to buy everything from back-to-school clothing to supplies, tech items, and more.
Some of the best back-to-school marketing campaigns of the past have focused on showing the school environment as a fun, exciting place to be. A place where students can interact with their friends and encourage kindness. Some strategies have even focused specifically on how parents can have more fun while back to school shopping. But, as everyone knows, things look a bit different this year.
That’s why it’s so important for marketing executives to look at the current situation of the uncertain times we’re living in when it comes to back to school advertising. Relevancy is hugely important when it comes to effective marketing. That includes everything from commercials that speak to a target audience, to staying connected with that audience in more personal ways, like through social media platforms.
So, what will (and what should) back to school marketing look like this year, and as someone in the industry, how can you make the most of it?
Understanding the Target Audience
In years past, your target audience was easy to identify and understand. Children and parents went through the same back to school routine each year. This year, the audience might be the same, but understanding what they’re going through is different.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone’s lives in some way. Many parents have lost their jobs. Others have started to work from home full-time. They are trying to play multiple roles all at once while making sure to take care of the physical, mental, and emotional health of their children.
By really researching your target audience, you can create campaigns that speak to those individuals on a personal, conversational level. To effectively research your target audience, keep some of the following tips in mind:
- Revisit your initial definition
- Project their buying journey
- Get personal on social media
- Send out surveys
- Listen to what people are saying
- Launch a focus group
It’s also important to target your audience by using the right language when describing different groups. For example, try to avoid using labels like “Millennials” when talking about school or college-aged kids. Technically, Millennials are those who were born between 1981-1996, so most of them are out of college. Today’s generation is called Generation Z, and the oldest members of this generation are set to finish college this year.
Keeping Students (and Parents) Motivated and Focused
Learning from home isn’t always easy. Parents who work remotely likely already know how difficult it can be to stay focused and motivated when you’re doing your job at home. It can be an even more difficult task for kids who are used to going to different classrooms and seeing their friends each day.
With that in mind, there is no doubt that parents will be looking for ways to keep their kids focused and organized each day so they can concentrate on their school work. Businesses can capitalize on this by promoting inspirational virtual idea boards for parents. They can offer ideas on how to stay organized or ideas that can help their kids to stay focused. Idea boards can be used for:
- Solutions to problems
- Different concepts
- Improvements to an existing way of doing things
Parents can use these boards to either create a schedule each day for their children or work with them on their learning process. By marketing different tips and tricks for a virtual idea board, you can give parents the help they’ve been looking for, and they are more likely to appreciate and trust the business doing the marketing for the “freebie”.
This is also a good time for businesses to market their organizational products. Anything that makes learning from home easier should be at the forefront of every marketing agency right now. That includes everything from office furniture to traditional school supplies. That is one thing that doesn’t have to change this year. Children will still need things like pens, pencils, and notebooks for home learning. By advertising those familiar things, it can even help students who are learning at home to feel a sense of familiar normalcy.
How Companies Can Capitalize
Because so many students are doing virtual learning, that allows them to learn from anywhere. It’s easy to feel burnout or lose motivation when you’re sitting on your couch while you’re technically “in school”. Parents might even feel the same need for a change of scenery if they are working from home or trying to teach their children.
That’s why it’s important for different businesses to offer free WiFi, or to promote mobile hotspots that can be used anywhere. Marketing executives can capitalize on the free WiFi options for different clients and companies like coffee shops or other public buildings that might offer a change of pace for those who are learning at home.
Utilizing social media to advertise the use of a business’ free WiFi is a great way to attract those who have been learning or working from home and need a break. Some places could even offer incentives for people to come in, like a discount for students on certain products. Posting marketing techniques like these on social media can be valuable for pinpointing what customers care about the most, especially during these uncertain times. It will allow you to effectively collect data based on responses and feedback.
Marketing executives already know that strategies have had to shift this year in almost every industry. People want to feel more connected and less isolated. Now that school has started up again across the country, keep that idea in mind as you market for a back to school season that focuses on in-home education.